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FSA Urges Public to ‘Face Freezer Fears’ in a Bid to Tackle Food Waste

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FSA Urges Public to ‘Face Freezer Fears’ in a Bid to Tackle Food Waste

FSA Urges Public to ‘Face Freezer Fears’ in a Bid to Tackle Food Waste
July 06
09:13 2016

Misconceptions about how to freeze food safely are contributing to food waste in the UK, according to new research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The research identified a number of freezing ‘myths’ that are preventing people from using their freezers to make food go further. 43% of those interviewed think that food should only be frozen on the day of purchase to be safe; 38% incorrectly said it is dangerous to refreeze meat after it has been cooked; and 36% wrongly believe that food can become unsafe to eat while in the freezer.

Over two thirds (68%) of the people surveyed have thrown food away in the past month, with bread (36%), fruit (31%), vegetables (31%) and leftover meals (22%) topping the list. The most common reason given for throwing food away is that it is past its ‘use by’ day, cited by over a third (36%) of respondents. 30% admit to throwing food away as they had bought too much and didn’t eat it, and over half (54%) say they feel guilty when they throw food away. However, the reasons given can all be avoided by making better use of the freezer.

In response, the FSA is focusing on helping people to understand how to waste less food safely by making more of their freezers. Furthermore, the FSA, working with Defra and WRAP, has announced that it will be launching a review of the guidance provided to the food industry on date marking on food. This will include consideration for whether the remit of the guidance should be expanded to cover food storage and freezing advice for consumers.

FSALogo2The research also found that 90% of people say there are foods they would never freeze. Almost a quarter (23%) of those surveyed would never freeze meat that was cooked after defrosting, with 73% of these people saying this is down to worries about food poisoning.

Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the FSA, says: “Every year, we throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink from our homes. Much of this waste is unnecessary, and a better understanding of how to freeze food safely could go a significant way towards tackling the problem. Our research shows that many of the fears the public has about freezing food are unfounded and we need to ensure they know the facts. 31% of the people we spoke to said that more information about how to safely freeze food would help them to reduce their food waste.”

He adds: “The freezer is like a pause button, so you can freeze foods right up to the ‘use by’ date. While food is kept safe in the freezer, it’s the quality that deteriorates over time, so we recommend eating it within three to six months and checking for any freezing instructions on the packaging. Once defrosted, the pause button is off, so defrost food as and when you need it and eat it within 24 hours of it being fully defrosted.”

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